Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jonathan Jacobson: In His Own Words



Jonathan Jacobson
Hello, my name is Jonathan Jacobson and I am a teacher. I would like the opportunity to tell you all a little bit about myself, how I became a teacher, and my experiences in Southbridge.


I have lived in Southbridge since 2000 and helped raise three wonderful boys from diapers to high school. In December 2005, I read a Reader's Digest article titled, “The Brain Drain”. The article spoke about how the United States was not preparing its children for a future in a global economy, how the educational system was not creating enough scientists and engineers, and the solution was to find highly qualified teachers in math and science. I worried about my own children's future and what I could do to help make a difference. Shortly after reading the article, the President of the United States, during his State of the Union address, asked for highly qualified people in math and science to step forward and become teachers to help pave the way for a brighter future for our children. It was as if the President was speaking directly to me and I answered the call. At first, I offered to substitute teach, but when I found that without a license I could not actually teach, I immediately registered to take the teacher test.  My license to teach high school mathematics arrived in August 2006 and several teacher friends recommended I apply to the Worcester Public Schools District because it was large and would more readily accept a first year teacher. They were right. No sooner had I dropped off my resume, than I received a call on the way home to come in for an interview and I was hired. On the first day, I was given a classroom list, attendance sheets and the teacher text book and told to go and teach the kids.



I have had many jobs: paper boy, dish washer, landscaper, janitor, librarian, delivery driver, tutor, cashier, shoe salesman, fire fighter, rock climbing instructor, professional dancer, theater director, coach, teacher, but my bachelor's degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute is for Electrical Engineering. I have always had a love of mathematics and it has always been in my life in one way or another. I started teaching math as a freshman in high school in 1985. What started as a friend asking me for help, turned into a classroom of students after school by the end of the year. I would listen to the lesson, take notes during class and then I would “translate” the lesson into “student-speak” for my peers after school. I will spare you the details, but I will say that my childhood was tumultuous and ended as a ward of the state my senior year. That year, my high school physics teacher, Mr. H., asked me what I was going to do after graduation. I had very little money, I would have no place to live when I turned 18 in June and thought that the only option for me was the military. Mr. H. said, “yeah, you could join the military... or you could go to college and become an engineer.” Mr. H. was speaking from the heart, for he had been both in the military and an engineer, before becoming a teacher. So silly me, I actually believed him, applied to engineering schools and was accepted to WPI with a full scholarship. I guess being emancipated has some perks. Once there, I went to school year round because I was essentially homeless. I was in the process of double majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with a minor in Philosophy and Religion, when I decide five years was enough. I wanted to start working... or I just wanted to eat something other than ramen noodles and mac-n-cheese!


I have to thank my three boys right now, because I was not their father, but they gave me the opportunity to act like one. They let me make mistakes and still loved me anyway. They had taught me the most important lesson when dealing with other people's children. They taught me patience.


I would also like to thank my Toastmaster's International Speaking Club, “Bose Speakers” of Framingham, Ma., for allowing me to lead them as club president in the late 90's. It was there that I learned the skills necessary to prepare and deliver a powerful message to an audience.


Knowledge, preparation, speaking and patience, this was my recipe for being a successful teacher.


While in Worcester, I noticed that the students that really wanted to learn math, were the non-English speakers. What could I do to help them more? The answer is that I went back to school and became a licensed English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and according to the Department of Education at that time, I was the only license mathematics and ESL teacher in Massachusetts. I also found a mentor in the 2007 Math Teacher of the Year, Kate Shepard of Worcester.


Two years later, I applied to Southbridge High School because I was no longer that untested newbie teacher and I wanted to give back to the community in which I lived. I was so excited to be “home” and planned on retiring from Southbridge High. I do not just teach my subject, I get involved with students, teachers, parents and the community. I started and coached the Boys and Girls Junior Varsity Soccer Team in the fall.  I helped start and coach the Boys and Girls Indoor Track Team with Mr. Burrus in the winter. I coached the Boys Tennis Team in the spring. I started and coached the ping-pong club, which attracted as many as fifty participants after school, between both students and teachers. I ran the Chess Club, I was Freshmen Advisor, I was on the School Council, I was a member of the School Management Team, and I was a 4th year member of a math teacher cohort at Clark University. As a member of the Quinebaug Masonic Lodge, I helped raise scholarship money to give to graduating Southbridge High seniors every year.


After my first year with Southbridge, I saw a need to better support the struggling incoming freshmen with math. Each year the math support classes would be moved around and shared with teachers within the math department, never giving any teacher a chance to become experienced at teaching a support class. I became a teacher to help students learn math and requested to teach all of the math support classes just made sense to me. Administration obliged and the other math teachers in the department did not object. No surprise there. Because I am also an ESL licensed teacher and semi-fluent in Spanish, I was able to teach two sections of ESL math support without and extra ESL teacher in the room, saving the school district money. I went to homes to tutor students with extended absences due to illness and I tutored an expelled student in all subjects after school at the library in town. I incorporated technology into the class room and successfully “Pioneered” a new software package, Study Island, and I was one of the first Study Island certified “Power Users” in the country. By customizing all assignments and using scaffolding, I was able to differentiate the instruction to get each student exactly what they needed to be successful. The results of student achievement were amazing. Approximately 75 students answered over 600,000 math problems at 89.5% correct. One student did not speak any English at all, but was able to answer multi-part fractional word problems perfectly in his head by the end of the year. The expelled student passed my class from home with a 71%. The biggest success story was the special ed ESL student that had not passed a math class in years, passed with a legitimate, no curve, no bonus, no extra credit, 61% for the year! He was so happy and I was so proud of him.


Due to successful use of the program and discussions between myself and the corporate offices of Study Island, Southbridge High gained national recognition and Study Island donated over $13,000 worth of math remediation software to help with the support classes. As a side note, I did all of this after my non-renewal because I did not want anyone to be able to say that I did not do my best to the very end.



I was also working with several seniors to start an on-line company to promote local Southbridge businesses that would be owned and operated by Southbridge High graduates, called “The Goto Guy”. Starting and running a business was my way of connecting the students to the importance of mathematics by offering real world work experience as an alternative to college. I would also like to thank WPI alumni and lawyer, Gerry Blodgett of Worcester, for helping with the legal side of starting the company.


Here is my story and these are the facts that cannot be disputed. If you wanted to make up your mind about the person Jonathan Jacobson is, there is a much easier way to do that. Ask any one of the 422 students that attended Southbridge High, because I knew them all.


“And now you know the rest of the story, good day.” - Paul Harvey


54 comments:

  1. Thank you, Jonathan, for an inspiring story! Stick close by. Who knows? Maybe the Southbridge chapter of your life's journey is not over yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jonathan JacobsonJune 9, 2012 at 12:46 AM

      Thanks Brent. Your comment foreshadows my recent decision to pursue a career in school administration and don't think for one moment I have ruled out politics.

      Delete
  2. Jonathan, Thank you for your educational service and also for sticking up for yourself. By doing so you have exposed a problem in our education system that has gone on for far too long! You have stuck up for the benefit of all of us.
    Jonathan good for you!

    BB is lucky you haven't turned your own thick file into a civil lawsuit against his own taxpayer stuffed deep pockets. His unearned sweet pension could be all yours!

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  3. They fired this guy?

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  4. Thank you Jonathan for sharing your story. You have gone above and beyond for the students and the school was lucky to have you. It's really too bad that you had to go through what you did because the Southbridge School District lost a special teacher. I hope the administrators that did this to you have to pay a serious consequence for their actions.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Have you heard what happened at Eastford Road School this morning?

    http://www.southbridgeeveningnews.com/Articles-Southbridge-Evening-News-c-2012-06-07-156456.113119-Human-error-computer-glitch-cause-panic-at-Eastford-Road-School.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Geez. My email warns me before I send an email with a misspelling. You mean to tell me that there's no "Do you really want to do this" in that software?

      Delete
  6. Ken:
    This is great reporting. Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. This guy should be rehired and BB fired!!

      Alex

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    2. I owe credit to both Brent Abrahamson and Paul Zotos who were instrumental in developing this report. However, more than anyone, I owe credit to Jonathan for having the courage and fortitude to speak out on his own behalf. It is unfortunate that those on the other side of this matter have not been as forthcoming.

      Delete
  7. I find Mr. Jacobson’s achievements remarkable. Reminded me of the movie “A Beautiful Mind”. Here are the “Opening & Ending” lines:

    Helinger: Mathematicians won the war. Mathematicians broke the Japanese codes... and built the A-bomb. Mathematicians... like you. The stated goal of the Soviets is global Communism. In medicine or economics, in technology or space, battle lines are being drawn. To triumph, we need results. Publishable, applicable results. Now who among you will be the next Morse? The next Einstein? Who among you will be the vanguard of democracy, freedom, and discovery? Today, we bequeath America's future into your able hands. Welcome to Princeton, gentlemen.

    Nash: I've made the most important discovery of my life. It's only in the mysterious equation of love that any logical reasons can be found. I'm only here tonight because of you. You are the only reason I am... you are all my reasons.

    Nothing else left to say but Thank You!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why is it taking so long to feed students at shs? My son says there are times he only has minutes to eat!! Why did the kitchen manager put this system in place!!

      Delete
  8. If you think what happened at Eastford Road School was bad wait till next year!Kids are going to be dumped off all over town!!

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    Replies
    1. What makes you think that when they just hired the same busing company they have had for years? It's actually going to be easier now. Comments like yours are merely intended to stir hysteria, so why don't you stop speculating on the worst case scenario and instead focus on the good things about to happen.

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    2. Dear Bo-Peep, First of all your in denial/or dillusional!! Second, JJ's wife works for this bus company!!

      Delete
    3. response to bo-peep well there's a forgainst arguement if I ever heard one. Did she work for them the last time they messed with the bus routes and they had to cancell school for days to fix them again? I say this because it's more the route planning, or misplanning, than who does or doesn't work for the bus company.

      Delete
  9. wondering about the truthJune 7, 2012 at 9:24 PM

    Id like to know why he was let go? I know they are saying bb did something wrong and i dont like speculating when i dont know the facts and i would like to know, but there has to be something really off the wall that this person did to be let go. He sounds story book perfect. I dont know his age he looks really young but he certainly has done alot in his life to now and I commend him for making something of himself and for helping the children out there. Will this ever be public on what the real story is? There will be other schools that would pick him up if he sends this story of his life out to them. I wish you the best!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jonathan is currently living in California where he is employed as a teacher.

      Delete
    2. From what I read, Jonathan is an honest and compassionate man who exemplifies what kind of teacher I would want my children to have. In BB's eyes, Jonathan was a threat to the regime being built. Everything leads back to the rotten apple leading the high school right now. Shame on BB and shame on the Flab 4 for protecting him.

      Delete
    3. BB falsified observation/evaluation documents that painted Mr. Jacobson in bad light, which I believe is the reason for the recent arbitration case that the School Committee lost.

      Why falsify documents? Maybe he hates Jacobson. How could anyone hate someone with the integrity and ambition of someone like Jacobson? That's the million-dollar questions, now isn't it?

      Delete
    4. Wondering about the truth: On April 5, 2012 this blog had an article entitled "The Jacobson Decision versus Southbridge Schools". Within that article is a link to the entire arbitration decision. I believe reading this document will answer your questions.

      Delete
    5. The arbitrator's decision eludes to the underlying motivation behind Mr. Jacobson's dismissal. The first half of the decision speaks to a procedural issue (boring) but the second half gets into the meat of it. Read carefully - the answer is there. Why that underlying discovery by Mr. Jacobson has not been addressed by the Superintendent or School Committee is the real mystery here.

      Delete
    6. Jonathan JacobsonJune 9, 2012 at 1:15 AM

      Thank you for the compliment about looking young, because this month is my birthday and I will be 41 years old.

      Delete
    7. “H A P P Y...B I R T H D A Y!” Mr. Jacobson

      Thank you for still thinking enough of Southbridge to keep in touch.

      Delete
  10. Ken. Would you be so kind as to post a link to your article that includes a link to the arbitration case? Apparently I'm a little blind today. I can't seem to find it. I appreciate it. Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. If you click on Jonathan Jacobson's name in the byline of the above article, it will take you there.

      Delete
  11. Thought About ItJune 8, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    I hear something. Wait...wait... Is that a whistle blowing?

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  12. I am interested by the fact that Mr. Jacobson's article has been up for over 24 hours, with an impressive number of hits, and nothing that he stated has been challenged.

    I have made every effort to remain neutral in this matter, but at this point my impression of credibility is squarely on his side.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are those os us who have tried to reply here but our comments are not being posted.

      Delete
    2. That’s not true.
      I have not published the remarks of one person who makes a number of serious allegations under a pseudonym. If they are willing to sign their name and verify their identity as Mr. Jacobson has done I’ll print their comment.
      What I’ve been getting lately appears to be little more than a late mounted campaign of character assassination.

      Delete
    3. So you are saying that you are not posting what I have written because it is anonymous. However, you have no problem posting other anonymous posts when they suit your point. There have been plenty of serious allegations posted anonymously on this site before. It is a difficult decision to make regarding posting your actual name. There are alot of factors I am still weighing.

      Delete
    4. Show me an anonymous post that makes unsubstantiated allegations.
      You are not only trying to discredit Jacobson but me as well.

      Delete
    5. Discrediting is not the intention. There is simply more to the story here that has not been told. It is obvious that your mind is already made up. This is exactly why I didn't want to post in the first place. I guess I've learned a lesson regarding posting on blogs.

      Delete
    6. You made an allegation about the comments I publish. If you can't substantiate it why should I believe any other of the unsubstantiated allegations that you continue to make anonymously?

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    7. What would qualify as "substantiate" in your mind? My name? Is that all that is needed to substantiate? So, simply because Mr. Jacobson was willing to print his name, that makes everything he says true and credible?

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    8. There are plenty of anonymous posts that make unsubstantiated allegations. Look all over the one titled "Ely Finalist in Dracut". There are anonymous posts on June 7th and June 8th that say things about Bishop, Lazo, Degregorio, Ely, and others that are "campaigns of character assassination". There are several claims that are opinion based with no fact and are slanderous, but yet they were all posted while my comments were not.

      Delete
    9. As the expression goes, you are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts. The examples you cite are, as you say yourself, statements of opinion. They are not assertions of fact. The statements you want published are assertions of fact. There is a distinct, and legal, difference.
      Mr. Jacobson’s statements are made under his name and he is responsible for them. If you want to make assertions of fact send an article with your name and a picture and information that allows me to verify your identity and I will publish it. Simultaneously, you will be personally liable for any legal consequences.
      Otherwise, stop wasting everybody’s time with your kvetching.

      Delete
    10. Thank you for the suggestion. I will work on my statement and picture and get back to you asap. I guess I should consult a lawyer as well and make sure that he won't sue me too.

      Delete
    11. Make sure to send it to my email address and not post it as a comment. Be sure to read the disclaimer at the bottom of this blog.

      Delete
    12. Better yet, why don't you start your own blog and you can say whatever you want as far as I'm concerned.

      Delete
    13. In a matter of 12 minutes difference, you did an about face. First you offer me directions on where to send my information, then you basically tell me to go away. Your last comment makes is clear that you really don't want to hear what I have to say because it does not serve your purpose or share your viewpoint.

      Delete
    14. Maybe I'm just fed up with you. Submit your article. I just worry about the legal implications.

      Delete
  13. I partner with Mr.Jacobsen on a Men's team in California, where we support each other while growing through life's challenges. I feel greatly privileged to have Jonathan in my life in this regard, and so want to express appreciation to this BB cad. Unfortunately for SouthBridge, your loss is the gain of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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  14. Keep him San Francisco Bay. That is where he belongs. I also worked with him and although his heart was in the right place his unorthodox methods or style of teaching did not. He had to go!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous June 22, 2012 7:58 PM - "...although his heart was in the right place his unorthodox methods or style of teaching did not." Did not what? You indicate he belongs in San Francisco. Why? Does the San Francisco school district promote or require unorthodox methods of teaching? I know the Southbridge school district does not demand a cookie-cutter style of teaching. Not all students learn the same way. Jonthan Jacobson said he customized all assignments and using scaffolding, was able to differentiate the instruction to get each student exactly what he/she needed to be successful. I guess, in your mind, that's unorthodox - therefore, unacceptable. In my mind, that's effective teaching. You said you worked with Jonathan. I hope you're not a teacher.

      Delete
    2. Dear Shame on you, if you think thats effective teaching your as nutty as this JJ guy! You should join him in San Franth with all the other nut jobs. Shame on you!!

      Alex

      Delete
  15. I agree with anonymous. When jacobson goes back to San Fran he should take BB with him. BB is an eogotistic, self-centered, narcissistic maniac!!!

    Alex

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  16. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ve not seen anything to match the vile and libelous comments that have been sent regarding school committee matters.
    Town council partisans can’t hold a candle to the comments I’ve had to block from both sides on school committee issues.

    ReplyDelete
  17. A lot of hot air has been wasted on this subject when it comes done to two very simple question.
    Did BB follow the proper proceedure in not renewing JJ's contact?
    Did BB actions stand up to the high standards and rigor of responsibility for a school principal?

    The arbitrator clearly answered both questions with a no!

    The only question left is why BB still has a job in the Southbridge School system?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's hard to say why BB still has his job. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the principal selection committee that chose him being stacked (including Dominko's partner) with BB buddies. He was chosen over other applicants who I am sure were more qualified and experienced.

      If you really want to see families return to SHS, I would suggest you eliminate one of the main reasons they left...poor administration. I prinicpal is supposed to be a leader, not a bully.

      How does a town employee who has cost Southbridge tax payers this much $$ keep his job. The School Committee should be ashamed of themselves. Aren't they supposed to be the watchdogs?

      Delete
    2. As a mother of a student at SHS I want to know why did a copy of a final exam appear on the internet before students took the exam?? Is this standard procedure at SHS. Can the Mr. Ely check into this?

      Delete
  18. Zotos says, wow what a story, how come we never knew
    About all the good things jonathan did while at SHS
    maybe we should find out about our teachers and police
    Fire DPW, town hall employees town wide
    We all know the saying it takes a village
    Well it takes a village to ruin or damage our children
    The more we know about our emplyees
    The better we can oversee them
    Maybe i should write about all the things i accomplished
    In town so we can judge what happen to me
    All meetings and debates are on yourube
    Because of poor programming by the town
    Switch to the dish and watch local meetings on youtube
    Send the town a message
    There is no such thing as government controlled public
    Television

    ReplyDelete
  19. Mr. Jacobson is the BEST teacher ever!!!

    ReplyDelete

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